'To Be Where There Is Pale Light' -The Wolf Howls When I Scream Your Name / Turned Up Louder
The world of the small band is tough- the insurmountable cost of pursuing a career in music, coupled with the exclusionary ethos of labels and managers leave many small bands forced to either compromise on their vision, or else risk being left out in the cold. However, there are the occasional diamonds in the rough whose refusal to compromise on their creative vision, and as such the work they produce is as raw and unfiltered as it is well-crafted and deliberate. One such band are The Wolf Howls When I Scream Your Name, an alt rock trio from Manchester, who have grown from a solo project started by vocalist Matthew Awbery into a three piece - completed by drummer Sam Johnson and bassist Harry Woodrow. Taking inspiration from a range of acts, from the likes of Thrice to Seahaven and Radiohead, the band have crafted their sophomore EP, titled ‘To Be Where There Is Pale Light’, a record which is an unsullied exploration of the darkest parts of the human experience, which centres around the ideas of loss, confusion and a desire for escape- and indeed, provides a misty, melancholy soundscape which to escape into…
Greeted at the first note with a chorus of spine-chilling, droning guitars, the desire of this three-piece to create their own idiosyncratic hallmark becomes immediately apparent. The low, grungy bassline of ‘Alive & All So Well’ is overtured with a tentatively wailing guitar, which then morphs and ruptures into a melancholic, swaying melody. The track ebbs and flows with an eerily harmonious placidity, like a lullaby viewed through a vaporous kaleidoscope, while the haunting harmonisations in the bridge tremble, clinging to the songs edges: a feature that winds its way through the entire record like a ghostly spectre in the shadows. Kicking to life with the first punch of the kick drum, the tone of ‘Migraine’ is a shade brighter, making this an excellent gateway to delve deeper into the turgid heart of this record. Frontman Matthew Awbery's raw, earthy vocals crunch over the rolling drive of the undulating bassline, which is flavoured with short bursts of squealing guitar- a less involved, opaque offering perhaps, but it is by no means lacking in depth.
Not ones for compromise for the sake of an easy listen, ‘To Be Where There Is Pale Light’s two centre tracks both creep in over the five-minute mark, and as such explore a myriad of multi-faceted layers within each. That characteristic ethereal droning that opens ‘No Alibi’ is this time sliced through by the lonesome, reverberating guitar, as the pace of the melody slowly builds like a gathering of storm clouds. That self-same ghostly harmonising again haunts the depths of this track, flitting in and out between the crashing drums and the reverberating guitar in the bridge that crackles almost like sherbet. Its successor is yet another five-minute odyssey- ‘It Hurts Me’ is borne from the inkiest blackness, and is by far the heaviest and darkest song on the record. Unbridled, the slowly swirling layers of guitars cultivate an atmosphere that is almost akin to dragging yourself through thick black treacle- not the easiest of listens for many, perhaps, and an incredibly plucky move for a band in such an early phase of their musical evolution. Yet this track has buried within it a slow-burning potency- pulling at something deep in the pit of your stomach that alludes to something far more monumental which could be brewing in the pipeline for this young trio.
Taking an unexpected leap in tone from its predecessor is closer ‘Lover Grieve’, which bounds from the realms of the vast black abyss to a soft yet utterly heart-wrenching ballad. The full-bodied warmth of the acoustic guitar is powerfully bittersweet as it jars against the pain-filled lyrics: the track is far more stripped back than anything else on the record, but by no means sparse in comparison to its fellows. On the contrary, it oozes with palpable emotion from every note, which reaches a peak with Awbery’s strained vocals in the final lines- these agonisingly tender closing moments ensure that this is one record that will not pass you by unnoticed, nor leave you untouched by the emotions and experiences that have fuelled it.
There is no doubt that with ‘To Be Where There Is Pale Light’, The Wolf Howls When I Scream Your Name have undertaken a mammoth task- and have pulled it off with their own unique brand of finesse. This EP is dark, emotive and powerful, and illustrates how painful past experiences can come to be reimagined as a muse for forging new creative endeavours- a powerful message of hope to be gleaned from the gloom.
‘To Be Where There Is Pale Light’ is due for release on 19th April as a self-release.
Check out the video for the band’s latest single, ‘No Alibi’, below:
To celebrate the unleashing of ‘To Be Where There Is Pale Light’, The Wolf Howls When I Scream Your Name will be teaming up with emo/math band Clay Lake for a weekend of release parties- dates can be found below:
21st April @ The Underground, Stoke (Clay Lake EP release show)
22nd April @ The Salty Dog, Northwich (EP release show) with support from Clay Lake